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Liquid Cooling Radiators
Working in exactly the same manner as a car radiator, it removes heat from the passing fluid which is then dispersed into the air through the use of fans seated on mounting points on the radiator. In PC water cooling, purpose-built radiators have mounting points on both the front and back to maximise the cooling potential. Fans placed on one side is usually enough though and fans mounted to both sides of a radiator – known as a push/pull configuration – is only required in extreme cooling situations if the space available in a given case allows it.
What types of water cooling radiator are there?
Radiators for PC liquid cooling come in all sorts of sizes and configurations, from single 120mm radiators (one fan placement per side) all the way up to monstrous 560mm radiator
The widely used radiator formats are as follows:
Radiators for 120mm fan sizes
120mm radiator suitable for upto 2 x 120mm fans in push pull configuration
240mm radiator suitable for upto 4 x 120mm fans in push pull configuration
360mm radiator suitable for upto 6 x 120mm fans in push pull configuration
120mm radiator suitable for upto 8 x 120mm fans in push pull configuration
Radiators 140mm fan sizes
140mm radiator suitable for upto 2 x 140mm fans in push pull configuration
280mm radiator suitable for upto 4 x 140mm fans in push pull configuration
420mm radiator suitable for upto 6 x 140mm fans in push pull configuration
560mm radiator suitable for upto 8 x 140mm fans in push pull configuration
Radiators for uncommon fan sizes
80mm radiator suitable for upto 2 x 80mm fans in push pull configuration
160mm radiator suitable for upto 4 x 80mm fans in push pull configuration
180mm radiator suitable for upto 2 x 180mm fans in push pull configuration
360mm radiator suitable for upto 4 x 180mm fans in push pull configuration
540mm radiator suitable for upto 3 x 180mm fans in push pull configuration
What radiator thickness should I go for?
As well as different sizes being available, PC radiators also come in varying thicknesses. It is important to choose the right thickness for your water cooled build, as the thicker the water cooling radiator, the harder your fans will need to work to push the air through the fins on the rad – resulting in an increase in fan speed and therefore also noise level. The thickest radiators should only really be chosen if you don’t mind noise level too much and where ultimate performance comes before anything else, including noise levels. For most builds, the standard thickness should be more than enough, with the majority of radiators being in the 35mm to 46mm range. Slimmer rads are available and can be considered for lower powered builds that aren’t using top-tier hardware.
Crossflow and multi-port radiators
Some radiators are also different when it comes to port layout. The normal placement of ports see them at one end and on one side – one for inward flow, and the remaining for outward flow. However, ‘crossflow’ radiators have their two I/O ports at opposite ends of the radiator. The reason for this being loop optimisation, allowing the build to be as efficient as possible if the inward flow is connected to a component in an opposite side of the case as the component connected to the outward flow. This basically minimises tubing and reduces bends as much as possible. On the same subject, some radiators also have more than the standard two in/out ports, adding an extra one or two usually on the side edge of the radiator. These have a couple of purposes including being used for a drain port when changing fluid or connecting multiple loops to the same radiator, although this isn’t usually very efficient, cooling performance-wise.